Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Guest Post: 5 Tips for Flying With Young Kids

Damsel lives the crazy life of a military spouse, married to her Army soldier husband, whom she affectionately calls her Knight in Shining Armor. They have two children – Jet, their six-year-old son, and Songbird, their two-year-old daughter - who like to throw their hands in the air and scream as they careen together through the ups, downs, twists, turns and loops of the military roller coaster. She writes a family blog at Damsel and Family, and runs a freelance writing business under “real” name, Rachel M. Perez. Her family will PCS to Italy this summer, and they plan to do plenty of traveling once they get here!
Many thanks to Melissa for allowing me to guest post for her today! Her blog was one of the first I found during the initial frantic Googling of Italy after we got wind of our possible orders. (You do that, too, right? Right?!?) I’ve enjoyed reading about her travels, and hope to follow in her footsteps soon!
Military spouses get really, really good at traveling. With all of the PCSing, traveling to see family and sight-seeing in the areas where we’re stationed, we become experts quick, fast and in a hurry. Here are the top five things that I’ve learned to do to make flying easier for our kids our family me.
1. Take the stroller into the airport. Most airlines allow us to gate check a stroller, which means that we can corral our toddler right up to the door of the plane. Upon arrival, or if we have a layover, they will bring the stroller up to the jetway for us as we get off the plane. Call the airline ahead of time to be sure - I call before I even book the ticket!
2. Pack extra clothes, for everybody. Songbird was three months old the first time I flew with her, and she spit up on my shirt. I had two or three extra outfits for her, but nothing for me. The next trip, I packed myself a clean shirt… and her diaper leaked on my pants. Now, I pack entire outfits, including underpants and socks, in a gallon-size Ziploc bag for each person. I squish all the air out, and it lives in the bottom of its owner’s backpack for the duration of the trip. The Ziploc bag is handy for carrying dirties when the new outfit becomes necessary. It’s also nice to know that we all have at least one change of clothing if our luggage doesn’t make it!
3. Take baby wipes. I don’t care how old your kids are! Once Jet stopped wearing diapers, I stopped carrying baby wipes. When we had Songbird and I started carrying them again, I couldn’t figure out why I’d stopped! They’re perfect for messes or just getting rid of the airplane ickies. I use them to wipe down the seat-back tray tables before (and usually after) we eat. Plus, our toddler thinks wipes are so! fun! I give her one and she goes to town, wiping down everything in sight, and buying us at least fifteen minutes of (relative) quiet.
4. Pack distractions - small, quiet toys, snacks and favorite loveys - in the carryon bags. Books, matchbox cars, crayons and coloring books, and portable DVD players (with headphones) all make great entertainment for flights. I usually buy one or two new toys or movies per kid and stash them in my backpack… but I don’t give them out until things seem to be hitting rock-bottom! I also pack lollipops – they’re a rare treat and they’re good for helping little ears during take-off and landing.
5. Remember that you’ll never see these people again. I’m talking about anybody and everybody you lay eyes on from the moment you set foot in the airport until you’re back home in your own bed. If your kids behave themselves, great! If not, don’t worry about what anyone else thinks. I’ve mastered the art of tossing an apologetic glance at someone and mumbling a quick, “Sorry ‘bout that”, while not really giving a flip about their opinion. I mean, I do feel bad that my kid kicked the back of your seat for the three-thousandth time, but I also know I’m doing my best to make this trip go smoothly for everyone concerned. Other travelers forgive quite a bit when you look at least look like you’re trying.
Safe travels… maybe I’ll see you around!


The Kellys said...

Fabulous advice!

Dana said...

Excellent tips! I would add electronics to the list. I know, I know . . . but 6 hours of Tom and Jerry on a transatlantic flight really is a good thing. Don't assume that the airline will show a kid-friendly flick.


Anonymous said...

I never understood why people get so bent out of shape when kids are on a flight.
I remember my first flight with my daughter. She was 6 months old. You should have seen the looks I got when I boarded...and she was sleeping.
I get that flying is uncomfortable to some people but come on you were a kid once too, get over it.
Ok I am done ranting :)
Seriously awesome tips! You nailed it with the baby wipes one :)